Abendmusik history, by Ruth Enns

Abendmusik B&W 2011-

 

In the summer of 1986, a few brave Mennonites in Vancouver banded together to buy a convent.  The dwindling group of nuns at 4000 West 11th Street could no longer sustain their community in the Point Grey neighbourhood.  Rather than sell for a higher price to a developer, they chose to pass their property to some visionaries who were willing to sign significant personal letters of credit in support of a dream: a place where Mennonite university and college students could live when they came to Vancouver to go to school, a place where young scholars were encouraged to make connections between studies and faith, and with each other. The grey concrete building that had housed some fifteen nuns was renovated, renamed the Menno Simons Centre, and students came.

Interest rates in those days were high, and with a sizable mortgage to address, the founders felt considerable pressure to find money.  John and Erna Friesen had musical relatives: a beginning could be made by having a fund-raising concert.  The first event in what became Abendmusik featured their son, cellist John Friesen, his aunt, soprano Ingrid Suderman and his cousin, pianist Betty Suderman.   It was held in August 1987, once at the MEI in Abbotsford and once at Killarney Park Church in Vancouver.

The name Abendmusik was chosen because Evan Kreider had been teaching a course on Bach, and because Early Music Vancouver had just had a concert with that name: José Verstappen said he didn’t mind if we recycled his lovely poster design!  We were later repeatedly advised that this was not a good name, it smacked of Germanic heritage and did not reflect the diversity of modern Mennonitism, only old people would come. Music history students know it was the name of a new music series that attracted the attention of Bach as a twenty-year-old:  he walked over two hundred miles across Germany and almost lost his job to be there.  We continue to enjoy the name because of its radical resonances, old and new.

I got involved in Abendmusik for its second event, in November of 1987.  Exactly how that happened had to do with Evan Kreider’s commitment to starting the Menno Simons Centre: he was one of my professors in the doctoral musicology program at UBC.  I also encountered him when I played piano at the little Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship, which was meeting in the chapel of the Menno Simons Centre.  As a grad student at UBC, I had contact with many musicians who were looking for opportunities to perform, some of whom were Mennonite.  In the early years, Abendmusik presented mostly chamber music concerts, with a mix of instrumentalists and solo singers.  We sometimes had short testimonials from Centre residents, and we always had coffee time after the concerts so people could visit.  Many different Mennonite churches were used, partly in an effort to expand our contacts, but also to suit various performers, for reasons such as acoustics, pianos, or personal connections.

The Abendmusik Choir was formed when Eric Hannan arrived at UBC in 1991; he was working on a degree in choral conducting, and needed a choir.  With help from Evan and others, the first vespers happened that October at First United Mennonite Church in Vancouver, where Eric and his wife Erika were attending.  The vision of the vespers services was to intersperse readings and prayers written over the centuries with mostly-unaccompanied choral singing to form a one-hour worship experience.  Cookie time, speakers, and at first even the offering plate were purged as disruptions.  (The offering soon returned!)  Eric chose venues mainly for their acoustics.  After some experimenting and adjusting, Knox United became the usual church where we practiced and presented services in Vancouver (1994f), and in Abbotsford, we used Emanuel Free Reformed Church (2000).

There was a period when we presented a combination of benefit concerts and vespers services each season.  Our busiest season was 1992, when Abendmusik put on fourteen separate events, which included four sets of vespers and two benefit concerts, each done in at least two places.  However, the focus became the choir, and eventually we no longer did the concerts.  I had completed my UBC degree, was working and raising kids, and the concerts didn’t make sense any more. Also the size of the mortgage and interest rates decreased!  Abendmusik came to mean choral services, with liturgical elements arranged or created by Evan Kreider.  We settled on three sets of services per season–Thanksgiving, Advent and Lent–each presented in Abbotsford on Saturday and in Vancouver on Sunday.

The next big change came when Eric Hannan was appointed conductor of the award-winning Vancouver Cantata Singers—he no longer had the time to lead our group.  Andrea Klassen Siemens, who had sung in the choir from the beginning and had acted as assistant conductor when Eric was away, took over as Music Director in 2004.  This spring, when Andrea was on leave, composer and UBC doctoral student Tim Corlis conducted.

The long-running success of Abendmusik has been due to consistently good audience attendance, and the contributions of many willing performers.  Fundraising was a burning issue in the early days of the Menno Simons Centre, and Abendmusik’s contributions in this area have been significant, with nearly $300,000 received in the offering plates over the years.  It has been the main outreach program of Vancouver’s Menno Simons Centre.  For the musicians and the people who come to listen, its value lies in the opportunities it provides for the encouragement of artists, the enjoyment of good music, and the experience of communal meditation and spiritual renewal.

Ruth Enns
Chair of Abendmusik since 1988
Written July 2011

 

LIST OF EVENTS

1987

1. Ingrid Suderman, soprano; Betty Suderman, piano; John Friesen, cello
Aug. 15, Mennonite Educational Institute, Abbotsford
Aug. 16, Killarney Park MB Church, Vancouver

2. Katherine Harder, soprano; Betty Suderman, piano; Margo Toews, oboe; Angelique Toews, violin; Ruth Enns, piano/Sandra Froese, piano
Nov. 20, Chilliwack Central Road MB Church
Nov. 21, Mennonite Educational Institute
Nov. 28, Killarney Park MB Church

1988

1. Joanne Dyck, soprano; Ray Horst, clarinet; Ruth Enns, piano
Feb. 5, Killarney Park Church
Feb. 6, Mennonite Educational Institute
Feb. 7, Chilliwack Central Road MB Church
Feb. 27, Peace Mennonite Church, Richmond

2. Ingrid Suderman, soprano; John Friesen, cello; Betty Suderman, piano; Ruth Enns, piano
Sept. 30, Chilliwack Central Road MB Church
Oct. 1, Bakerview MB Church, Abbotsford
Oct. 2, Killarney Park MB Church

3. Marvin Regier, baritone; with Helene McDonald, soprano; Crystal Hicks, mezzo-soprano; Chris Garcia, tenor; Eric Hominick, piano; Bernard Fernandes, synth and percussion; Ruth Enns, piano
Nov. 11, Bakerview MB Church
Nov. 12, Peace Mennonite Church

1989

1. Colleen Braun-Jansen, soprano; Eileen Deros, piano.  Caroline Harder, mezzo-soprano; Ruth Enns, piano.  Ray Horst, clarinet; Angelique Toews, violin; Barbi Fast, viola, Sherril Pauls, cello; Cheryl Pauls, piano
Feb. 3, Eden Mennonite Church, Chilliwack: cancelled due to snow
Feb. 4, Bakerview MB Church
Feb. 5, Killarney Park MB Church

2. Ingrid Suderman, soprano; Betty Suderman, piano; Vesper Singers of Clearbrook, Holda Fast, conductor
Nov. 18, Fraserview MB Church, Richmond
Nov. 19, South Abbotsford Church

1990

1. Katherine Van Kampen, soprano; John Friesen, cello; Betty Suderman, piano
Jan. 27 and 28: cancelled

2. Dale Throness, baritone; Ruth Enns piano.  Angelique Toews, violin; Susan Schaeffer, violin; Barbi Fast, viola; Laura McPheeters, cello; Stephen Hamilton, double bass.  Sandra Friesen, piano; Louise Zacharias, piano.
April 27, Eden Mennonite Church, Chilliwack
April 29, South Langley MB Church

3. Caroline Harder, mezzo-soprano; Betty Suderman, piano.  Reg Quiring, viola; Ruth Enns, piano
Nov. 16, Killarney Park MB Church
Nov. 17, Eden Mennonite Church, Chilliwack

1991

1. Colleen Braun-Jansen, soprano; Eileen Deros, piano.  Ray Horst, clarinet; Marlis MacAulay, flute; Sandra Friesen, piano
Feb. 8, Eben-Ezer Mennonite Church, Clearbrook
Feb. 9, Peace Mennonite Church

2. Doyle C. Preheim, baritone; Mary Jo Preheim, piano.  Karl Stobbe, violin; Betty Suderman, piano
May 24, Bakerview MB Church
May 26, Peace Mennonite Church

3. William Reimer, baritone; John Friesen, cello; Betty Suderman, piano
Aug. 10, Fraserview MB Church
Aug. 11, Bakerview MB Church

4. Vespers, Abendmusik Chamber Choir, Eric Hannan conductor
Oct. 20, First United Mennonite Church, Vancouver

5. Angelique Toews, violin; Reg Quiring, viola; Eugene Osadchy, cello; Cheryl Pauls, piano.  Abendmusik Singers, conducted by Eric Hannan
Nov. 16, Killarney Park MB Church
Nov. 17, King Road MB Church, Old Sanctuary

6. Vespers, Abendmusik Chamber Choir, conducted by Eric Hannan
Dec. 8, Mountainview Mennonite Church, Vancouver

1992

1. Vespers, Abendmusik Chamber Choir, conducted by Eric Hannan
Feb. 9, First United Mennonite Church
Feb. 16, Cedar Hills Mennonite Church

2. Cheryl Pauls, piano.  Colleen Braun-Jansen, soprano; Caroline Harder, mezzo-soprano; Paul Gates, tenor; Coleman Houser, baritone; Dori Baunsgard-Hannan, piano
Mar. 13, Fraserview MB Church
Mar. 15, Sardis Community Church

3. Lenten Vespers, Abendmusik Chamber Choir, conducted by Eric Hannan
Mar. 29, Mountainview Mennonite Church
April 5, Cedar Hills Mennonite Church
April 12, King Road MB Church (old  sanctuary)

4. Pacific Mennonite Children’s Choir, conducted by Nancy Dyck
June 6, Central Heights Church, Abbotsford
June 7, Peace Church

5. Thanksgiving Vespers, conducted by Eric Hannan
Oct. 11, Epiphany Chapel, Vancouver School of Theology
Oct. 18, King Road MB Church (old sanctuary)
Oct. 25, Mountainview Mennonite Church

6. Advent Vespers, conducted by Eric Hannan
Dec. 6, Mountainview Mennonite Church
Dec. 13, King Road MB Church (old sanctuary)

1993

1. Benefit Concert, Ingrid Suderman, soprano; Abendmusik Choir (Hannan); West Coast Mennonite Chamber Choir, conducted by Tony Funk
Jan. 30, Bakerview MB Church
Feb. 6, Killarney Park MB Church

2. Lenten Vespers, Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Mar. 28, King Road MB Church
Apr. 4, Mountainview Mennonite Church

3. Summer Concert.  Anita Krause, mezzo-soprano; Calvin Dyck, violin; Ray Horst, clarinet; Sandra Friesen, piano; Ruth Enns, piano; Cheryl Pauls, piano
July 24, Sherbrooke Church, Vancouver
July 25, Bakerview MB Church

4. Thanksgiving Vespers, Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Oct. 16, Mountainview Mennonite Church
Oct. 17, Epiphany Chapel, VST
Oct. 24, King Road MB Church, old sanctuary

5. Advent Vespers, Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Dec. 11, Mountainview Mennonite Church
Dec. 12, King Road MB Church, old sanctuary

1994

1. Benefit Concert. West Coast Mennonite Chamber Choir, conducted by Tony Funk; Abendmusik Choir (Hannan), UBC Bass Quintet
Feb. 5, Fraserview MB Church, Richmond
Feb. 12, Clearbrook MB Church

2. Lenten Vespers, Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Mar. 13, Knox United Church, Vancouver
Mar. 20, King Road MB Church, old sanctuary
Mar. 26, Mountainview Mennonite Church

3. Thanksgiving Vespers, Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Oct. 15, King Road MB Church, old sanctuary
Oct. 16, Knox United Church

4. Advent Vespers, Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Dec. 3, Mountainview Mennonite Church
Dec. 4, Knox United Church
Dec. 10, King Road MB Church, old sanctuary

1995

1. Benefit Concerts.  Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Feb. 3, Fraserview Church.  Judith Janzen, soprano; Ruth Enns, piano
Feb. 18, Bakerview Church.  Calvin Dyck, violin; Betty Suderman, piano

2. Lenten Vespers. Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Apr. 1, Mountainview Church
Apr. 2, Knox United Church
Apr. 8, King Road Church, old sanctuary

3. Thanksgiving Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Oct. 14, King Road Church, old sanctuary
Oct. 15, Knox United Church

4. Advent Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Dec. 2, King Road Church, old sanctuary
Dec. 3, Knox United Church

1996

1. Benefit Concert.  Abendmusik Choir (Hannan).  Ingrid Suderman, soprano; Ray Horst, clarinet, Betty Suderman, piano; Ruth Enns, piano
Feb. 10, South Abbotsford MB Church
Feb. 11, Knox United Church

2. Lenten Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Mar. 30, King Road Church, old sanctuary
Mar. 31, Knox United Church

3. CD with Ingrid Suderman, Hear My Prayer

4. no Thanksgiving services because of Eric’s baby and Evan’s sabbatical

5. Advent Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Dec. 7, King Road Church, old sanctuary
Dec. 8, Knox United Church

1997

1. Lenten Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Mar. 22, King Road Church, old sanctuary
Mar. 23, Knox United Church

2. Thanksgiving Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Oct. 4, Trinity Christian Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Oct. 5, Knox United Church

3. Advent Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Dec. 6, Trinity Christian Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Dec. 7, Knox United Church

1998

1. Lenten Vespers. Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Mar. 28, Trinity Christian Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Mar. 29, Knox United Church

2. Maundy Thursday Interdenominational Communion Service, Abendmusik Choir
Apr. 9, Knox United Church

2. Thanksgiving Vespers. Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Oct. 3, Trinity Christian Reformed Church
Oct. 4, Knox United Church

3. Advent Vespers. Abendmusik Choir, conducted by Andrea Klassen (Eric sick)
Dec. 12, Trinity Christian Reformed Church
Dec. 13, Knox United Church

1999

1. Lenten Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Mar. 27, Trinity Christian Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Mar. 28, Knox United Church

2. Thanksgiving Vespers. Abendmusik choir (Hannan)
Oct. 2, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Oct. 3, Knox United Church

3. Advent Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Dec. 11, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Dec. 12, Knox United Church

2000

1. Winter Vespers. Abendmusik Choir (Hannan).  Kathryn Koslwosky, piano; Ray Horst, clarinet; Reg Quiring, viola; Ruth Enns, piano
Feb. 26, Trinity Christian Reformed Church
Feb. 27, Shaughnessy Heights United Church

2. Lenten Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Apr. 15, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Apr. 16, Knox United Church

3. Thanksgiving Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Sept. 30, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Oct. 1, Knox United Church

4. Advent Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Dec. 2, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Dec. 3, Knox United Church

2001

1. Lenten Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Apr. 7, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Apr. 8, Knox United Church

2. Thanksgiving Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir, conducted by Andrea Siemens
Sept. 29, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Sept. 30, Knox United Church

3. Advent Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Dec. 1, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Dec. 2, Knox United Church

2002

1. Lenten Vespers. Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Mar. 23, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Mar. 24, Knox United Church

2. Thanksgiving Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Oct. 5, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Oct. 6, Knox United Church

3. Advent Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Nov. 30, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Dec. 1, Knox United Church

2003

1. Lenten Vespers. Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Apr. 12, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Apr. 13, Knox United Church

2. Thanksgiving Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Oct. 18, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Oct. 19, Knox United Church

3. Organ Celebration Concert.  Gerald Harder, organ. St. James High Mass Choir and Abendmusik Choir
Nov. 16, St. James Anglican Church, Vancouver

4. Advent Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Dec. 6, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Dec. 7, Knox United Church

2004

1. Lenten Vespers. Abendmusik Choir (Hannan)
Apr. 3, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Apr. 4, Knox United Church
2. Thanksgiving Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Oct. 16, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Oct. 17, Knox United Church

3. Advent Lessons and Carols Service, Abendmusik Choir with St. James Choir (Harder)
Nov. 28, St. James Anglican Church

4. Advent Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Dec. 4, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Dec. 5, Knox United Church

2005

1. Lenten Vespers. Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Mar. 19, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Mar. 20, Knox United Church

2. Thanksgiving Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Oct. 1, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Oct. 2, Knox United Church

3. Advent Lessons and Carols Service, Abendmusik Choir with St. James Choir (Harder)
Nov. 27, St. James Anglican Church

4. Advent Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Dec. 3, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Dec. 4, Knox United Church

2006

1. Lenten Vespers. Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Apr. 8, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Apr. 9, Knox United Church

2. Thanksgiving Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Sept. 30, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Oct. 1, Knox United Church

3. Advent Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Dec. 2, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Dec. 3, Knox United Church

4. Advent Lessons and Carols Service, Abendmusik Choir with St. James Choir (Harder)
Dec. 10, St. James Anglican Church

2007

1. Lenten Vespers. Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Mar. 24, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Mar. 25, Knox United Church

2. Thanksgiving Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Sept. 29, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Sept. 30, Knox United Church

3. Advent Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Dec. 1, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Dec. 2, Knox United Church: cancelled due to snow

2008

1. Lenten Vespers. Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Mar. 15, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Mar. 16, Knox United Church

2. Thanksgiving Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Oct. 4, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Oct. 5, Knox United Church

3. Advent Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Dec. 6, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Dec. 7, Knox United Church

2009

1. Lenten Vespers. Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Apr. 4, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Apr. 5, Knox United Church

2. Thanksgiving Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Oct. 3, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Oct. 4, Knox United Church

3. Advent Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Dec. 5, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Dec. 6, Knox United Church

2010

1. Lenten Vespers. Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Mar. 27, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Mar. 28, Knox United Church

2. Thanksgiving Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Oct. 2, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Oct. 3, Knox United Church

3. Advent Vespers.  Abendmusik Choir (Siemens)
Dec. 4, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Dec. 5, Knox United Church

2011

1. Lenten Vespers. Abendmusik Choir, conducted by Tim Corlis
Apr. 16, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Apr. 17, Knox United Church

2. Advent Vespers. Abendmusik Choir, conducted by Tim Corlis
Dec. 3, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford (download audio recording file)
Dec. 4, Knox United Church

2012

1. Lenten Vespers. Abendmusik Choir, conducted by Tim Corlis
Mar. 31, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Apr. 1, Knox United Church

2. Advent Vespers. Abendmusik Choir, conducted by Michael Murray
Dec. 8, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Dec. 9, Knox United Church

2013

1. Lenten Vespers. Abendmusik Choir, conducted by Michael Murray
Mar. 23, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Mar. 24, Knox United Church (download audio recording file)

2. Advent Vespers. Abendmusik Choir, conducted by Michael Murray
Dec. 7, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford (download audio recording file)
Dec. 8, Knox United Church

2014

1. Lenten Vespers. Abendmusik Choir, conducted by Michael Murray
Apr. 12, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Apr. 13, Knox United Church (download audio recording file)

2. Advent Vespers. Abendmusik Choir, conducted by Michael Murray
Nov. 29, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Nov. 30, Knox United Church (download audio recording file)

2015

1. Lenten Vespers. Abendmusik Choir, conducted by Michael Murray
Mar. 7, Emanuel Free Reformed Church, Abbotsford
Mar. 8, St. Philip’s Anglican Church, Vancouver (downlo?ad audio recording file)